Suburbicon

By Angie Raphael

3.5 stars

This twisted dark comedy takes some odd turns but it is hilarious and even a little shocking in parts. The only real problem with Suburbicon is there are two plots running and they do not intersect strongly enough. One is based on the true story of black couple William (Leith M. Burke) and Daisy Meyers (Karimah Westbrook) and their young son, who move into a white town and are unfairly targeted by racists. Meanwhile, in a neighbouring home, two men (Glenn Fleshler and Alex Hassell) break into a house and chloroform a family including patriarch Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon), his wife Rose (Julianne Moore), their son Nicky (Noah Jupe) and Rose's twin sister Margaret (also Julianne Moore). The juxtaposition of the two plots emphasises the issue that white killers can get away with crime when people are distracted and blinded by racism. It is also eerily relevant given recent events in the United States.

Damon plays an uncharacteristically sinister and loathsome man, while Moore is equally creepy and Jupe is solid as the young lead. Oscar Isaac also has a memorable role as an insurance investigator. Unfortunately, Westbrook and Burke do not have enough material to work with. George Clooney is a better director than he is actor and he also has a writing credit on this film with Grant Heslov. As a director, Clooney keeps the pace steady and even shows some surprisingly brutal violence. Joel and Ethan Coen are also credited as screenwriters and their influence is obvious. Only the Coen brothers could cleverly spin such an outrageous tale. Suburbicon is not quite at the Burn After Reading level, but it is satisfying.


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